SportMotoGPMotoGP prioritizes technology overtaking and the show

MotoGP prioritizes technology overtaking and the show

MotoGP lives a paradox. The distance between the six manufacturers that are in the world championship has never been so small, nor have the contenders for the podium been so numerous, but overtaking is becoming more and more complicated, to the point of ruining the show. The convergence of performance is obviously due to the fact that the margins that allowed them to make a difference have been reduced, but the drivers have emphasized the different technical elements to explain the current situation.

From the overheating of the front tire in traffic, which limits performance, to more sophisticated and sensitive aerodynamics when the driver finds himself in the slipstream of a rival, without having the speed to overtake.

“The passes are very complicated in MotoGP because the bikes are very fast on the straights and very precise with the aerodynamics,” Danilo Petrucci , who has noted the evolution of the category in the last decade before racing in MotoAmerica , told . this year. “It’s especially difficult to overtake because the aerodynamics don’t help when you’re slipstreaming, it’s like a handicap when braking, you have to go off the line to try to pass, because if you brake from behind, there’s no air.”

“Those little things make qualifying even more important, you have to start from a good position, and then you have to have the best possible tire for the last few laps,” he continued. “You can’t stress the tire by overtaking, trying to brake later or putting more pressure on the rear, every year it’s more difficult.”

Faced with this statement, shared by several world championship drivers, should the spectacle be taken into account when drafting future technical regulations and stopping the race for aerodynamic development?

The CEO of the championship, Carmelo Ezpeleta , does not seem to make this a priority issue: “Races are like that, and if overtaking is lacking, I have no influence on it.”

“We are not going to change the bikes to increase the number of passes,” he acknowledged in the newspaper As .

In an interview with , Ezpeleta was more open, and stressed that the governing bodies are already thinking about 2027 , the year in which a new contractual cycle will begin that will link manufacturers and teams to the championship: “From here to 2026, nothing will change, unless there is unanimity among the participants”.

At the moment, it seems difficult for everyone to agree, since everyone keeps looking for more and more technology without taking overtaking into account. Ducati, always at the forefront of innovations such as spoilers and acceleration devices, believes that there is no evidence that the sophistication of today’s bikes can influence track performance.

“The technology or the new devices on the bikes are very similar to last year, so I don’t see it as a real problem in terms of less spectacular races,” said the Italian firm’s sporting director, Paolo Ciabatti. press conference in Assen.

“Obviously, in some circuits we have seen less overtaking than we are used to, but I don’t think it has much to do with development, because I think there are no big differences with last year’s bikes. In 2021 we saw spectacular races, like the of Aragon, with the duel between Bagnaia and Márquez, which was one of the best in recent years in MotoGP, and what we have today is not very different”, he said.

To insist on this, Ciabatti also cited the duel on the last lap in Austin between Márquez himself and Fabio Quartararo, and the Frenchman’s boss, Massimo Meregalli , agreed with his compatriot: “I largely share the point of view of Paolo [Ciabatti]. In the last two years we have introduced many devices, but the wings and the electronics give more safety to the pilot.”

“As for Ducati, our bike [the Yamaha] is quite similar to last year, and I don’t share the idea that racing will be less fun this season,” he continued.

Are the analyzes that link the development of motorcycles with the reduction of overtaking a product of the imagination or a distortion of reality? The objectivity of the manufacturers is still questionable, since the race for innovation is one of the ways to make a difference with rivals.

As for the drivers, Marc Márquez considers that the situation is “difficult” and, although he is in favor of certain technology, he believes that it is the governing bodies that must define the path to follow.

“It’s impossible to come to a unanimous decision because as always we are racing so whoever has a better engine wants to maintain good top speed, whoever has good aerodynamics wants to go around or whoever has a good holeshot system wants to develop it further. , so it is impossible to be unanimous”, expressed the Catalan before stopping all his calendar to focus on the recovery of his right arm.

“But it is not our job, we can give an opinion, we all have it, but it depends on the championship, also on the constructors, and they must understand what path they want to follow,” he explained. “If they want to have more prototypes or if they want to put on a show with overtaking and racing.”

“I agree, I think a minimum of aerodynamics is necessary because we are going very fast and it is safer. We must have it on the bike, we need traction control and aerodynamics, but we have to find a way to establish clear rules, which is not easy,” Marquez said. “Maybe the limitations because otherwise we keep getting faster and faster, but the people who watch it on TV don’t realize that we are half a second faster, they only watch overtaking, like in Estoril with WSBK , with 10 or 15 passes between Rea and Razgatlioglu”.

“It’s what I enjoyed from my sofa, but we have to understand for the future that it is not easy to find a compromise between the constructors, the drivers and the championship,” continued the Honda rider.

Andrea Dovizioso has repeatedly complained about the sensitivity of current bikes under braking, and attributes this to the importance of aerodynamics, holeshot and electronics. Although the FIM has decided to limit the use of the high-altitude regulars for 2023, the one from Forlí gives negative predictions where it points to the dominance of technology.

“MotoGP has changed enormously in recent years, and they have focused much more on engineering,” said the Italian. “As a result, the engineers are more useful today than in the past, the championship has become that, which is why I say it has changed the series.”

“The bikes are ridden in a different way, there are many more different aspects that help the rider in the riding because more engineers have taken over the project and are working on this aspect,” he added. “It’s working whether you like it or not, that’s MotoGP today.”

Additional reporting by Charlotte Guerdoux

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